Erik K. Skodvin – Flare
Posted In: Alex Gibson, Deaf Center, Erik K. Skodvin, Erik K. Skodvin - Flare, Flare, Miasmah, Sonic Pieces, Svarte Greiner
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Finally available: Flare is the most recent project of Norwegian Erik K. Skodvin, otherwise known as Svarte Greiner, or as one half of Deaf Center…
Skodvin is pretty prolific (the CV on his website is vast), and would certainly be familiar to anyone with more than a passing interest in the Miasmah label, as he runs it, as well as doing graphic design and web work for this label and others to boot.
Flare opens with a brooding, percussive “Etching An Entrance”, great exercise in layering – plenty of implied melody and a staggering amount of instrumentation fading into solitary piano part. As far as opening tracks go, it a great foreboding piece that welcomes you inside and draws you in further.
The piano continues on with the introduction to “Matine”, slowly accompanied with some further stringed percussion. At this point the expansive mix becomes apparent – there’s a lot going on here, and it fills every corner of the speaker. That’s not to say cluttered either – the placement of all the parts is strong and everything is audible. There’s what sounds like bird noise or high-pitched strings as the track peaks, then recedes.
“Pitch Dark” follows, with some thumping and aggressive tones mixing in with some ethereal vocals drenched in reverb. The record has the all the characteristics of being recorded in an abandoned castle, deep underground in the desert. You can fairly hear the sand shifting…
“Failing Eyes” swirls around the speakers with plenty of bottom end, weight and depth. The track seems to go BACK a fair way, almost echoing off a distant wall.
“Neither Dust” is an insistent slow arpeggio with high tones creeping in from the edges to accompany sparse vocals and strings. The main instrument tone is intriguing – the first hint of any effects on any instrument that I could guess at.
“Graves” presents as treated percussion, with hiss dripping off it. Some guttural bass tones flicker in with more layers, building to an almost triumphant peak midway. For my money the standout track, and seemingly the heartbeat of the record, distinctive and menacing.
“Escaping The Day” lightens the mood somewhat, a spacious piano based affair with occasional sweeping and scraping strings.
“Stuck In Burning Dreams” is almost groove based, a byzantine mix of hammered strings and guitar tones. Dissonant and piercing, an incredibly assured bridge from track to track.
“Vanished” has the most outwardly drone like intro, before further chiming piano notes lift it out from itself, before submerging and rising again.
Closer “Caught In Flickering Lights” is a fairly maudlin and evocative piece to start, before again dropping into some fairly heavy hammering bass tones again. It’s quite a note to go out on.
The album as a whole bears the hallmark of someone who is not experimenting per se, but has a VERY CLEAR VISION of what is to be achieved at the end of the creative process. This record did not happen by accident, nor could it. I’d be curious to find out where and how it was recorded, as it has a really strong character of sound.
It is mentioned fairly regularly on articles on the net that this record represents a “friendlier” side to the artist, and is “only moderately dark”. I’d suggest to maybe not taking that statement at face value, as it is by nature pretty brooding, heavy and pensive. Those of you familiar with his work would not be surprised by what is on offer here, but those coming to it for the first time may find that it is not quite what they were expecting.
In saying that, it is a work of some considerable skill, and those not afraid of a few cobwebs and shadows will find the musicianship on offer rewarding. A perfect cinematic accompaniment to someone lost in the desert at night.
- Review by Alex Gibson for Fluid Radio
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